The use of chemicals to enhance our lives is a notion that brings up taboo ideas of drug use. But using the properties of items that grow around us is a recurring feature of everyday living. Herbal medicine such as liquid zeolite, ellagic acid, fish oil and omega 3 are often used to improve different aspects of our lives and assist our well being. This use of plants and natural flora to help us can also be seen in the indigenous cultures of the Australian and Canadian Aborigines, Native Americans, as well as African cultures. Nowadays, however, the idea of taking certain chemicals has become taboo due to the effects on the mind they are proven to have. Can there be advantages to using these substances? Let us consider this question about the safety of legal drugs which are commonly available.
Many chemicals are added to drinks and foods for what are basically drug-like effects. The use of guarana in energy drinks, for example, is a well known chemical additive created to enhance the alertness and energy levels of the drinker. While these drinks are quite legal, they’re not recommended for young people or pregnant women, and doctors warn against having a large amount of these kinds of drinks, if at all. Along with the plant-based chemicals in the drinks, they are also of course high in caffeine. This is a substance which has become incredibly popular. The fact is, of course, that drinking a large quantity of coffee or energy drinks will cause a reaction in the body that is highly similar to that given by amphetimenes or known toxic chemicals. The difference, of course, lies in the view our society has of such chemicals.
This taboo has not always been the case, however. While hallucinogenics are today seen as some of the most dangerous chemicals it is possible to have, the properties of natural drugs such as ayuhuasca and psilocybin mushrooms was often used in the shamanic rituals of native peoples.
The idea of beginning use of hallucinogenic drugs to receive the wisdom held by indigenous peoples is a tempting one. But it has to be remembered that psychedelics were used by indigenous peoples as part of a wider relationship with nature, these were “local plants” just as creatures were local food and day- to -day life was a local widescreen entertainment system. How can the mind-expanding capabilities of psychedelics be fully realized within such an unnatural environment as that which we live in, beyond the momentary high?
The answer is that with any chemical, it cannot be believed that drugs will be the whole answer. It’s only through a wider understanding of ourselves and our connection with the Earth that we can begin to explore deeper questions of what it is to be human, and how we can best use our limited time on this Earth. The negative effects of all drugs can be easily seen in those who regularly take them, and it’s vital to remember the dangers every kind of drug posses.